- Thanks to reader JK to sending along the link to this article in the New York Sun about just how attractive the land upon which Aqueduct sits would be to developers should the track be closed.
"It probably is the largest undeveloped hunk of viable real estate in the city," a professor of urban studies at CUNY's Queens College, Martin Hanlon, said. "In terms of potential for development, it's very much there — you have the Belt Parkway, you have the A train."The piece goes on to discuss the usual desire of the local community to restrict any possible development to low-rise housing in keeping with the character of the community there, but ha, and sorry Ozone Park residents, but fat freaking chance for that! The current zoning laws in the area allow for commercial development - just check out the Home Depot built right next door - and the track sure ain't coming down to build two-story, one-family residential housing, I'm sorry to say. Of course, the whole deal is quite speculative right now, and the reaction to the story has been wholly, and thankfully, negative.
If Aqueduct, which sits just north of the western reaches of JFK, were shut down and opened to new construction, real estate analysts say the giant site, about eight times bigger than the Hudson Yards rail site on the far West Side of Manhattan, could be developed as a regional hub for southeastern Queens, with room for millions of square feet of residential and commercial space.
"I'm totally opposed to it," [Gary] Pretlow, the chairman of the Assembly's Committee on Racing and Gaming, said via telephone. "It's not good for racing — it doesn't do anything for the entire industry in New York; it hurts the existing venues."- According to the Saratogian, the idea to split the franchise up between NYRA, who would run Saratoga, and a franchisee for downstate didn't come from Spitzer's office. The concept is anathema to the folks in Saratoga, and the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing immediately convened a press conference to explain why.
- Separate track operators would compete with each other.But if the idea didn't come from the governor's office as Rifkin claims, where did it come from? I don't imagine that Tom Precious, who broke the story on Bloodhorse.com, made it up. My ever-skeptical mind wonders if it's something being floated by one or more of NYRA's challengers. After all, Saratoga may be profitable, but I don't imagine that those revenues would be very material compared to those from the downstate slots parlors. Recalling the backlash when Magna proposed making Saratoga a year-round entertainment destination, why would the bidders want to hassle with the responsibilities and restrictions associated with the high demand to keep Saratoga exactly the way it is (as in, slots-free)? They would, of course, if they really cared about the sport. But excuse me if I
- Operators would find it hard to hire and retain competent staff.
- Duplication of equipment and operating systems.
- Owners and trainers might move to states with more stable operations.
- Competing tracks might run head-to-head, forcing one to close.
- Racing's quality would deteriorate, reducing income to state and local government. [The Saratogian]